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Souq - 'Bazaar'


A souq (or souk) - an equivalent term is ‘bazaar’ - is an open-air marketplace or commercial quarter in Middle Eastern and North African cities.


Historically, souqs formed outside cities at locations whenever an incoming caravan stopped and the merchants displayed their goods for sale.  Given the arrival of such caravans were in unscheduled and infrequent, souqs often extended beyond buying and selling goods to include major festivals involving various cultural and social activities. 


Souqs grew to such importance that even in conflicted tribal areas, armistices were agreed to for a set period of time to allow for the unhampered selling and buying of goods.


Souqs are traditionally divided into sections dealing in specific types of product.  Named after the product it specializes, they are usually located in a few narrow streets.  Such specialties result in souqs such as: the gold souq, the fabric souq, the spice souq, the leather souq, rug souq and the copy (books) souq.


Canvassing a souq is a BLAST, something one should avail him/herself to should the opportunity present itself.  While all vendors are looking to make a profit, they are also looking to make a sale.  


The really good vendors, though, seek to establish a realtionship that will bring you back time and again and, towards that end, there will be the offer of tea, dates and spirited discussion.  Don't pass on such opportunities.


All in all, perusing a souq is a most enjoyable experience and one that I looked forward to on nearly a weekly basis.

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